Most spermicides contain a
chemical called nonoxynol-9 (N9). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
warns that N9 in vaginal contraceptives and spermicides may irritate the lining
of the vagina or rectum. This may increase the risk of getting HIV/AIDS from an
Advantages of spermicides
They do not affect future fertility for either
the woman or the man.
They are used only at the time of sexual
They are safe to use while breast-feeding (birth
control that contains estrogen affects milk supply).
They are less
expensive than hormonal methods of birth control.
They are safe for
women who have other health problems (birth control that contains estrogen
makes some health conditions worse).
Disadvantages of spermicides
Failure rates for
barrier methods are higher than for most other methods of birth control. Other
disadvantages include the following:
Spermicides cause an extra discharge from the vagina. Women who
use spermicides should not douche for at least 8 hours after intercourse so
that the spermicide continues to work to prevent pregnancy. (Douching is not
recommended for women in general.)
Some people are allergic to
nonoxynol-9, the active ingredient in most spermicides. They can develop
itching or sores in the vagina or on the penis, which make it more likely that
HIV can be passed from an infected person during sex.
nonoxynol-9 in spermicides may also increase the risk of getting HIV/AIDS from
an infected partner.
Some people are embarrassed to use spermicide
and a barrier method or worry that it may interrupt foreplay or intercourse.
This can create a problem with using it every time they have sex.